The Dysart Unified School District has been slapped with a lawsuit by a local evangelical group over a policy that bans the distribution of fliers with a religious message.
Dysart, which serves Surprise and El Mirage, allows other community groups to pass out fliers to students while unconstitutionally discriminating against religious groups, says the federal complaint (below) by the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Arizona.
According to the lawsuit filed yesterday, the CEF wanted to promote its "Good News Clubs" that are held after school hours at West Point Elementary School. When held at other schools and promoted with fliers, the clubs typically attract dozens of students. The first six meetings at West Point, however, failed to attract any.
Other school districts have been sued successfully for doing the same thing, notes Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defense Fund, which is providing legal services for the CEF along with the Center for Arizona Policy.
He's right: The Scottsdale Unified School District used to have such a policy, but a 2003 lawsuit brought with the help of the ADF reversed it. Like other school districts, Scottsdale's current policy still has some restrictions against fliers that groups may pass out, such as rules against swear words or defaming people.
The CEF's national office has been on a crusade for years to open up more schools to its Good News Clubs; in 2001, it won a similar case at the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the clubs, students study Bible stories and memorize sections of the Good Book, (though presumably not "bad news" passages like, say, Numbers 31:17-18), play games and sing songs.
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A Dysart official declined comment on the lawsuit.